A few nights ago we (foolishly) went out to eat after work. We went to this nice old restaurant that caters to a lot of senior citizens and has really great food. I picked up the kids after work and Bill met us there.
My kids are actually pretty good though Alex did need to be reminded to use his INSIDE voice on occasion…and then when Julia was done eating, that’s when the fun started. When she’s done, she’s DONE and she wants to get out of her high chair NOW. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but something like – she threw a napkin on the floor (violently, of course) and Bill reprimanded her and told her "we don’t throw things" (HA!) and next thing I knew she was hurling her fork toward the table to our right. Where there were people sitting and eating, blissfully unaware of the danger lurking nearby. Fortunately the fork didn’t hit anyone, though it came close. Fortunately I didn’t burst out laughing…though I came close. The woman closest to us (and to the flying fork) was very cool – "I have kids – I’ve been there, don’t worry about it" – but the best fun (as always) was watching Bill hover between embarrassment and fatherly sternness. The stern thing doesn’t work on Julia. She doesn’t give a fat rap.
We got home and let the kids run around in the back yard for a minute…and Bill was in the kitchen looking out the window, watching them, and I was bringing in the food we’d brought home…and as I was coming in the door, Bill muttered something in anger and ran out the door and then I heard Alex crying LOUDLY and saw Julia just standing there facing him…over by the asparagus bed.
The asparagus bed.
Last year we had a crop of about 4 asparagus. Asparagus plants take several years to gain momentum. This year the crop has just about doubled and it’s very exciting. A few nights prior to this one I we were all in the house when Bill came flying in announcing loudly to no one and everyone: "I’m gonna buy a gun!" It’s a lovely thing for the children to hear. But gol durn it, he was all fired up. Apparently he had been out inspecting the back forty (okay, the 8 asparagus in the far right corner of the yard) and a squirrel or some other little crittur had broken or bitten off the tip of the biggest asparagus. The varmint must die.
I was helpful. I pointed out that a gun wouldn’t do much good as he hadn’t even seen the animal that bit the thing off….Later on he amended the gun remark and told Alex (who, of course, had been listening closely) that he meant he was going to get a squirt gun…to chase away the squirrel. Alex helpfully told Bill he could use the squirt bottle that he uses to spray inside the lizard tank. That’s my boy – always practical and resourceful. Anyway, Bill took Alex outside and showed him what the big bad evil squirrel had done and Alex was equally outraged.
So anyway…back to the night after we went to the restaurant…Alex was sobbing loudly and Julia was standing there and Bill was hurrying across the yard…
Julia had broken the second biggest asparagus. Alex had tried to tell her not to but she wouldn’t listen, and she broke the tip off anyway. And then Bill got there, assessed the situation, and told her (sternly, I’m guessing) "NO JULIA! WE DON’T BREAK ASPARAGUS!" and Julia calmly bent down and broke another piece off the asparagus. Bill picked Julia up and stalked back across the yard, all the while talking sternly to her. I picked up Alex, who had tears streaming down his face over the poor asparagus victim (cut down before it’s prime)…He (Alex) was distraught. I carried him into the house telling him over and over "it’s okay" and wiped the tears and dirt off his little face…and meanwhile Bill had put Julia in time out (like she cared) and was busy (already) sauteeing the broken pieces of asparagus in some butter. So there.
The next morning, obviously affected by the events of the night before, Julia threw a full (plastic) bowl of oatmeal onto the floor because no one cleared it off her tray fast enough. It landed upside down, of course.
We don’t throw things, Julia.
Yesterday I was in the kitchen and I heard Julia go upstairs. (She has mastered the stairs and so we’ve taken down most of the barricades because she’ll just move them or climb over them anyway.) I stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up so I could see the door to our bedroom. We leave the kids’ bedroom open, but we shut the bathroom door so she won’t play with the plunger or the toilet brush…and we close the door to our bedroom so she won’t pull the iron off the ironing board and down onto her head.
The bedroom door was closed…but there she was, all her attention focused on trying to work the doorknob. I boomed "JULIA!" and she froze. And then she turned. Slowly. With her sly, smug, you-know-and-I-know-I’m-not-innocent-so-why-pretend-otherwise smirk on her beautiful little face. "Hi Mommy!" "You don’t go in my room, Julia" I said, in my best stern parent voice. She just stared at me, clearly waiting for me to go away so she could get back to work on the doorknob. I got comfortable and stared back.
There’s a stack of books outside our bedroom door (this is how great a housekeeper I am) – maternity books and baby name books and the like…which I haven’t needed in nearly 2 years but haven’t figured out who to give them to. Julia picked up the top two books and lifted them above her head, preparing to hurl them down the stairs. I spoke sternly again and said "We don’t throw books, Julia." She thought about that for a moment and actually accepted what I’d said. She sat down and opened one and began to read aloud:
"A B C D E F G….H I J K LMNOP…" and so I went back to the kitchen.
I came back to the foot of the stairs to check on her a minute later – and she was still sitting there, engrossed in the books with no pictures. I went back to the kitchen. I had the monitor on so I could hear if anything crashed in her bedroom…but nothing seemed to be going on. I continued to do whatever it was I’d been doing…but…it occurred to me that I wasn’t hearing ANY noise…and that was unusual. So I went back to the foot of the stairs to look – and the books were there, but Julia was not. Our bedroom door was still closed, though, so I figured she was in her bedroom silently pulling clothes out of the bureau drawers.
But after another minute or so of complete and utter silence, I got a little suspicious. I ran up the stairs and opened the door to our bedroom. And she was standing right there. RIGHT THERE. Next to the door. Waiting. With a huge grin on her face. My alarm clock/radio was on, so she’d had time to toddle around to the far side of the bed and hit the buttons first until the noise came on. Then she’d gone around to the other side of the bed to wait. For me. Grinning.
She had not only opened the door – she had known enough to close it behind her to throw me off and buy herself some time.
We are doomed.
She is eating sand.
Because I sternly (foolishly) told her not to.
With a trout.
That we had for dinner that same night.
My little man.
They make me smile.